By Rob Centorani
The new coach and the programs he'll be taking over have resumes similar to a 25-foot long jump or a sub-14-second 100-meter hurdle time.
Robb Munro, who elevated Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton into one of the best high school track and field programs in the area, accepted the men's and women's track and cross-county head coaching positions at SUNY Delhi earlier this week.
Sidney graduate Munro, 34, takes over the highly successful programs from Walton graduate Justin Wood, who was named head coach of the track and cross-country teams at Division III Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., last Friday.
"I have no doubt Robb will be very successful," said Broncos athletic director Bob Backus, who coached cross country and track at Delhi from 1993-2008 before hiring Wood to take his place. "He'll put his stamp on the program and make it work."
Munro said the hardest part was leaving the B-G/A program, which does not yet have a replacement. Bainbridge-Guilford athletic director Greg Warren said Friday night a search will begin soon.
"It's the toughest decision I've ever had to make," Munro said. "I certainly enjoyed my time there and I'm very happy with where the program is. I got to work in the program with some of my best friends. It's hardest to walk away from the kids coming back for their senior years. I've had them in class in seventh- and eighth-grade (as a social studies teacher at B-G), so this year's seniors I've worked with for five years. It was very difficult."
Among the athletes Munro has worked with over 11 seasons at B-G/A were three-time Daily Star Male Athlete of the Year Dustin Ross, a 400-meter specialist who went on to run for Division I Binghamton University; steeplechase state champion Chris Burnett, who spent the last two seasons as a standout distance runner for Delhi and will compete for Division I Wichita State in the fall; and 2012 B-G grad and steeplechase standout Connor Fuller, who's headed to D-I Monmouth University.
Munro also worked closely with former Greene standout Chad Noelle, a multiple-time state champion in distance events who runs for D-I Oregon _ one of the top track schools in the nation.
"We're excited about having a local coach," said Backus, adding that Munro served as an assistant under him in 2005.
As for Delhi's pedigree, the Broncos have won 19 NJCAA Division III titles in men's and women's cross country and track and field since 1991.
While Wood was at the helm, the Broncos won men's national titles in cross country in 2009 and 2010, and the men's track program finished runner-up at national the past four seasons. The women's track program placed second at nationals this past spring.
"With Delhi's cross country and track and field programs, you don't have to re-create the wheel," Munro said. "It's an established machine. My job is to not screw up what's been done and put my stamp on it. For years, the men's programs have been of very high quality and I want to get the women's program to that level, too. I want more numbers in the women's program and I want to get back to more local kids. I want to recruit in Section Four. Delhi has done well with downstate kids, but there's a lot of talent around here.
"I want the local kids to know they can come to Delhi for two years and they can set themselves up for down the road," he continued. "I think I have a good relationship with every coach in Section Four and I've already been in touch with many of them about kids who are incoming seniors that I'd be interested in talking to."
Munro said acclimating himself with his athletes will be important.
"At the collegiate level, you might have a kid come from a school who's gifted athlete where the coach didn't know his event and he might have bad fundamentals," Munro said, "or you might a kid who worked with one of the top coaches in the state. It's about balancing and finding out what they need to do. The training programs have to be individualized. One person might run 30 miles and another might run 80 miles a week. You can't train them the same way. You have to see how their bodies adapt. The other big challenge is it's a junior college. You only have two years with them, so you have less time."
Munro graduated from Sidney in 1996, winning a state championship and earning All-America honors in the steeplechase. He went on to earn 11 varsity letters competing for West Virginia (1996-97) and the University of Delaware (1997-2001). Munro earned a bachelor's degree in history education from Delaware and a master's degree in education from the University of New England.
Rob Centorani can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.